International Overdose Awareness Day: Local clinics combat drug crisis

Northern Nevada HOPES combats local drug crisis
Published: Aug. 31, 2023 at 8:18 AM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Thursday is International Overdose Awareness Day, an important day to recognize those dealing with social isolation and drug addictions.

Experts blame social isolation for the recent uptick in overdoses over the past few years. The CDC reported nearly 21,000 overdoses across America during the pandemic, with over 500 of them related to COVID-19 restrictions. There was a 2% decrease in 2022, but regulating fentanyl is an ongoing concern.

Here in northern Nevada, there are local clinics taking action against the trends. “We have a needle exchange. They can exchange their used needles for clean ones. We also give out fentanyl test strips on the bus, and we also give out Narcan,” said Michelle Wagner, the Director of clinic services at Northern Nevada HOPES. “It’s not just people that have substance use disorder that need Narcan for their own use, but we also give it to family members, loved ones, friends of those that are using.”

Narcan is available over the counter, but it comes at an expensive price. Depending on the pharmacy, you can expect to pay $45 to $150 per dose. The Change Point bus provides testing strips and Narcan for patients, friends and family. “They can come to Change Point, our van, every day Monday through Thursday 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. We have our van open and we can do fentanyl test strip training on the van.”

Fentanyl has proven to benefit patients in a medical setting, but on the streets, the amount of fentanyl is not medically regulated for one’s safety. “If they return the fentanyl strips we can look at that, we do ask them to return their used fentanyl test strips. In the last six months 100% of the federal test strips that we have got back, have been positive for fentanyl, so fentanyl is absolutely everything in northern Nevada right now.”

There are several locations in northern Nevada that you can get fentanyl test strips and services. To find them. click here.